Saturday, December 13, 2014

How to be a good parent when your own parents sucked! Part 2.


You can find Part 1 for how to be a good parent when your own parents suck HERE:    http://www.sevencherubs.com/2014/12/how-to-be-good-parent-when-your-own.html

PART 2.

So now that you know a little about where I am coming from in relation to parenting...the question then becomes how do we go about being a good parent when we feel we don't have a good example to follow. How do we make that actually happen in our lives?

Here are my tips for being a good parent and are the tips that I personally followed. These are what worked for me and take what you want from them for your own life and family:

1. Stop blaming your parents. Living in the past and blaming your parents for things that they did or did not do is not going to help anyone. I know. I spent way too much time doing it myself over the years. I let it hold me back. Sure, the way you were raised can influence who you are, the way you think and the decisions you make and we do need to take the time to heal from any serious hurt they may have caused but we don't need to be like them in our own lives. If you want to be different from your parents, stop focusing on them and focus on yourself instead. You can't change them but you can change yourself. Make a decision to be different. Then make changes to move on. With or without them in your life.

2. Educate yourself. If you have no idea how to be a good parent because the example given to you was bad, tragic and unhealthy, then take the time to educate yourself on what a generally good parent looks like, feels like and acts like. Read books, attend free or paid parenting classes, search on the internet, read parenting websites, talk to families you admire about what they do in their homes, find a parenting mentor and put in the time and effort to learn what you need to. Being a parent is one of the longest/most important work/commitment/dedicated assignments/roles you will have in your life! Take the time to educate yourself about the type of parent you want to be.

3. Create your own parenting vision. Look at how you were raised, look at what you liked and what you didn't like, then decide what traditions/values you want to keep and what you want to get rid of. When you become a parent you create a new family unit, you get to decide (with your partner if you have one) how you will raise your children. You determine what you will value and what your parenting goals or vision will look like. You do not have to immediately begin parenting exactly how you were raised. If you need to completely start fresh, this is your opportunity to do so. Your parenting vision might be the opposite or even slightly different from your parents but the important thing is that it is your personal vision.

4. Make your own decisions: Now I know there are some parents out there who are very controlling of their adult children but generally speaking...when you become a parent yourself, you get to make your own decisions regarding the raising of your child/children. Do not give this responsibility away to anyone else. Hold onto it fiercely and protect it. Making decisions for your family and children is scary! I get that and we all want to seek advice so that we can make the best decision possible. Sometimes seeking advice can make matters worse and we can end up more confused than when we started! If you feel you have parents who suck...be careful asking them for advice. Remember it is advice, you don't have to follow what they say. The final decision on anything for your family is your decision. Children need parents who are prepared to make decisions, who trust their instincts and try their best to move the family forward. You will make mistakes along the way. We all do.

5. Practice forgiveness on a daily basis: I love that every day is a fresh start. A chance to do better, to be better and to parent better. As a mother I have made many mistakes. I have lost my temper, been the kind of mother at times I never believed I would be and worst of all...at times seen flashes of my own parents in myself! The Horror! I have tried my best to fix situations after those parenting moments and I have gone out of my way to say sorry, to restore love to my home and to start again. That is all we can do as parents, to begin again and to try better.  I also have extended that same forgiveness to my own parents - you can read how I forgive, but don't forget, to protect my children here:   http://www.sevencherubs.com/2013/04/how-to-forgive-but-not-forget-when.html

6. Prepare yourself for some serious backlash! If you are going to strive to be a good parent, no matter who you are and what type of parents you had, you will have people who don't like how you are raising your children. People are passionate about parenting and have no problem letting you know if you are doing something they don't agree with. If you are raising your children very differently than your parents did, then expect some backlash! My parents are horrified that I am raising my children with religious values and have had no problem expressing that to me over the years. They, like anyone, are entitled to their opinion about my parenting and I of course am entitled to not listen to a word of it and to keep doing what I know is best for my family!

7. You are not alone. This is important to remember and it comforts me on many long lonely days. Especially on those days where I feel like all the children are against me and that I am the only one who is trying to teach, train and hold the family together! It can feel like no-one understands what you are going through and how hard this trail blazing parenting journey really is when you have nothing to go from. I have been surprised just how many other women feel the same way I do about having parents who suck! Knowing that I am not alone has brought me comfort and peace. There are so many people who feel this way about their parents and yet are out there trying their best to be good parents. They are making it happen and giving it a go! They are moving forward and having success. That inspires me to keep trying every day.

8. Practice self compassion: We are so hard on ourselves as parents. We naturally compare ourselves to everyone around us. We measure our 'worst days or moments' with the 'best days or moments' of every parent we know. We especially compare ourselves to our own parents! This is a constant problem if we are trying to not be anything like our parents!! For me, my goal is not to try to be bitter or high and mighty or revengeful in not being like my parents, I just want to do things differently in my own home. To feel good about doing this I need to practice self compassion along with forgiveness. I need self compassion to remind myself that I am walking my own parenting path and to stay focused on the vision ahead of me.

One key aspect of finding and feeling successful as a parent when you haven't had good parents yourself is to realise that the way you were raised is not a personal reflection on who you are. If your parents made bad choices or were hurtful in anyway, that was their decision, not yours. If you can let go of that sorrow and focus on your own vision for your family, you will have success.

Also, I totally understand that trying to be a good parent when you didn't have good parents yourself brings immense pressure. It is a pressure that can cause you to act in ways that you don't want to, you can stress out more, you can be more anxious, you can find it hard to relax and to enjoy parenting because there is so much pressure to get it right after being raised wrong. It is not easy to find the right balance of letting go of that pressure.

I don't have all the answers about how to be a good parent. I am learning about what works best for our family just like you. Along the way these tips above have helped me move forward and have helped me feel confident about the path and journey we are taking. Thank you for taking the time to read them and all the best in your parenting journey.

Friday, December 12, 2014

How to be a good parent when your own parents sucked! Part 1.


Some of us were given parents who left us feeling disappointed and unloved. The type of parents who raised us in unhealthy ways mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. It had nothing to do with us as young children, but everything to do with them.

They let us down, they withheld love, they hurt us and they set the parenting standard really, really low. Some of us may have had just one parent who left us feeling confused, wondering how to carry on the role of parenting from their example. Others may have had parents who did their best and yet felt it wasn't what they wanted to personally carry on in their lives.

No matter who we are or how we were raised...the good news is that for us, the next generation, we can make a change, we can make a difference and we can be better parents than we were given if we believe we need to and if we want to.

It is possible to be a good parent even when your own parents sucked!

I am going to share my thoughts in 2 parts.
Part 1 - About me and my life and Part 2 - My tips for being a good parent.

Also, I have to say straight up, that there is no perfect parent. We all make mistakes, parenting is a learning process and all of us are doing the best that we can, with what we know and when I am talking about being a 'good parent'... I am talking about the basics. Taking care of the basic needs of our children and loving them for who they are.

Plus, this is just my opinion and what is swirling around my head at the moment. What works for me, doesn't mean it is true or going to work for you. Take what you want from my thoughts.

PART 1.

To help you understand where I am coming from with regards to parenting...for me in my life:

I grew up with a parent who wasn't mentally and emotionally strong enough to protect me as a child, who seemed to live a life they hated and always talked about their dreams and goals of helping people but never did anything about it.

I also grew up with a busy, motivated parent who worked hard to achieve their goals and always made time to stop, serve and help people. They seemed a picture perfect parent on the outside but I knew them as a parent who hurt me in ways I could never have imagined.

For me, the common theme I saw in my parents was that they were weak.
As a child all I could see was their weakness.
In two very different ways.

As people and especially as parents we all have weakness.
Some weaknesses are more obvious than others.
Our children are also very good at pointing them out to us!

As I was growing up, I didn't know how I wanted to be as a parent but I knew for sure I wanted to be nothing like my parents! I wanted a different feeling in my home and I never wanted to hurt my children the way my parents hurt me.

I made a decision: I would listen to my children, believe them and protect them no matter what. I would talk about my dreams and goals and make them happen. I would not let anything stand in my way.

I also made the decision: I would stop the cycle of abuse with me, fight to protect my children and would strive to be kind and helpful and most importantly the same kind, considerate person in the community as well as in my home. No double standard.

After making these decisions here is what I personally did:

1. I made a commitment to live my life differently than my parents. It had to be a commitment for me because living my life differently than my parents has been a fight and a battle. They have fought me on it the whole way and I no longer have any contact with them because of it.

2. I dedicated a lot of time (years even!) to researching, reading and observing other families to discover, plan, visualise and practice what I felt would work best for our family. I started fresh, with new eyes.

3. I then fiercely trusted my instincts on what a good parent would look like for our family and of the kind of parent my children need me to be. As parents WE know what is best for our children, not anybody else. Anyone who did not or does not support me in my parenting vision is no longer a part of my life.

Following these three steps has not been easy. It has been actually really, really hard.

Most of the time I had a basic outline or plan of what I wanted to have happen in our home but really I had no clue of what I was doing. I stumbled my way, along with the support of my husband, to where we are today. Still slowly moving forward with no clue!

Not having that 'this is what we did when we were growing up background' has been good in some ways and bad in others. It has meant that I could blaze my own path as a parent but it also meant that there have been many days where I felt really lost.

I had no clue what was the 'good parent thing' to do and every time I felt this way, I always came back to love as my motivation and answer. Love for myself, love for my family and love for my children.

I would focus on what my heart and my instincts directed me to do.  Some days the answer might have been to leave everything and just watch a movie, order takeaway and have a picnic in the lounge, play games together or even to just all go to bed early!

Having no contact with my parents, which is my decision to protect my children, has been difficult because there has not been that constant advice, that wisdom to turn to for help when you need it. It has at times been very lonely and every so often I find it totally sucks that my parents suck!

Why couldn't they just be strong enough to be who I needed them to be?

This is a question that I have no answer for and need no answer for but it is a motivator for me to be the kind of parent my children need me to be. At times it is exhausting and so, so hard to step up to be that kind of parent but it is a commitment I have made to myself.

Over the years as a parent I have made plenty of mistakes and I have a lot of weakness myself. I am the first to admit that. Heck! I struggle constantly with feeling depressed at times which stems from my childhood and I constantly feel like I am a failure as a parent.

Even though I feel this way, I know deep down I am a good parent because I strive to always do the basics. I always strive to take care of my children's needs and to love them for who they are.

Sounds simple doesn't it. But, if you are a parent...you know it is not!
It is the hardest work I have ever done or will every do in my life!

It is a constant learning process and with seven kids...someone is always pointing out my weaknesses as a parent...I accept that and expect that. It is what kids do.

Over the years it has all been about trying new ideas or strategies to see what works best. It has been one long experimentation and in the future I expect my children will do the same that I have done. Look at what they have liked or disliked in our home, talk about how we may suck as parents and then go out and strive to be the best parents they can be with what they know will work best in their homes.

I have always struggled with knowing what is the right thing to do as a parent but I am grateful that I do know what is the wrong thing to do. That difference is why I believe I am a good parent to my cherubs.

Next I will share with you Part 2: My tips for being a good parents when your own parents sucked!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Omika: the little black dress

After all of my hard work running recently, I decided it was time to treat myself to a new dress.

A stylish little black dress even.

I found this one at Omika who have an awesome range of modest dresses for women.

Every dress they feature is at least knee length, not low cut in front or back and has a short sleeve as a minimum - perfect for women and girls looking for modest dresses for everyday wear, parties, work, special occasions and more.

So my style! You can check out the full range HERE.


When you are overweight, being able to fit into a dress can be a depressing and difficult task. I know! I have lost count how many dresses I have tried on recently trying to find one that fits nicely!

I have so much trouble finding the right fit for me because it is either too tight on my stomach or too tight on my chest. After having a bunch of cherubs...my body just is not the same!

Which is really frustrating as I really love wearing dresses.

I like my dresses to have a nice fit, to be simple, to look elegant and to look classy. It is how I like to dress. So I was pretty excited to find a dress that ticks all of those boxes.


This picture above is the 'check this out people...I can't believe I fit into a dress and it actually looks alright on me' pose!

This little black number is called Myreel and is a knee length dress. Gosh...it is comfortable! I love that it has some give to it, a little stretch so that I can actually breathe in it! It is the kind of dress you can dress up or down and it is quickly going to become a favourite in my wardrobe!


To celebrate the fact that I fit into a dress...

Yes...this does need to be celebrated!
Ladies...I know you know what I am talking about!!

...I have a $100 voucher giveaway to spend online at Omika.

To enter the giveaway head on over to my Facebook page by clicking HERE.

By the way if you have teenage girls they will love the dresses that Omika sell as well.
Check out the full range HERE.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

what depression looks like


People constantly say to me, "I was shocked to find out you are depressed. You don't look like you have depression." To which I normally just smile and sigh. Well, I don't know what depression is really supposed to look like but this picture above...is what it looks like for me.

Depression for me is all about what is happening in my mind. It is a daily battlefield full of explosions and bombs going off. A part of me knows it is important to get out of bed each day, to get dressed, to put on some form of makeup and to take care of my family. The other part of me wants to stay in bed, cry all day and to not be here any more. Every single day I have this fight in my mind.

Every single morning I fight it and get out of bed. I guess people want me to look scruffy, messy and to be constantly in tears for them to believe that I really have depression. It would be easier for them to believe, it would be easier for them to have compassion and to be supportive.

For me...that is not what it looks like. What it looks like for me is a woman who knows it is important to take care of herself and to try to keep functioning as best she can but inside her mind she is doubting every step she takes, she is constantly criticising every move she makes, she struggles to see a vision for herself because her mind is in a cloud, she keeps herself aloof from other women because she knows she always says the wrong things, she constantly reminds herself that she can never please the people closest to her, that she will never measure up, she feels like she is a failure every day and that everyone would be better off without her.

Most days, I feel too tired to fight this good fight. It always seems to be the same battle and I just wish for it to be over. I have accepted this is just the way life is for me and I try my best to work out how I can be a thriver amongst it all.

I know some people get upset that I even share my feelings about this topic here on my blog. When they talk to me about how they know I am depressed they even do so in a whisper...like it is a secret. I guess for them being depressed is connected with shame. For me, I find no shame in sharing or writing about depression. It is part of my life and I try my best to accept it and get on with it.

Some days I do really well and other days I don't. It is hard work battling yourself. There is no escape and when you find that what you just don't want to be here any more...there really isn't much lower you can go.

So I started running. A way to get me out of bed and to get my body moving. To help me feel alive. So far it is working. I feel stronger and more in control. But, it is hard work.

Right now, I am tired. Just plain ole tired of the battle in my mind. I am tired of everything to do with it and most of all I am tired of putting myself out there on social media. For someone who constantly second guesses every more she makes and who looks at herself in the mirror and thinks she is worthless it is not an easy task to take pictures of yourself and try to come across happy.

I do it in the hope that I might inspire one person each day. Most days I feel blessed that I get to achieve that goal. Some days I think everyone would simply be better off if I just disappeared. Don't worry I am not going to do anything crazy...I just am honestly sharing how I am feeling and saying that just like you...I have days that really suck!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

a secret safe to tell: book review

Talking to children about child protection is not an easy task for any parent.
It is topic that none of us want to face or deal with in regards to our children.

Sadly, today there is a great need for us to be brave as parents and to start conversations in our home regarding children and their bodies.

We need conversations that deal with appropriate touching to help keep our precious children safe.

I recently was sent the book, "a secret safe to tell" by Naomi Hunter.

It is a book about a child who has an adult friend who makes her feel special. Too special.

His touching makes her feel frightened and confused. His games are not fun.

It is only when she has the courage to tell someone else that her heart begins to heal.

Writing a children's book about child protection is not an easy task. You want it to be simple, easy to read and presented in a way that will not scare children or make them feel uncomfortable in any way.

And...yet you want it to be real. You want it to show children that inappropriate touching is wrong, that feeling worried, scared and afraid is normal in these difficult situations.

A secret safe to tell is beautifully illustrated and encourages children to be brave, to open their mouth and to share their feelings with an adult.

Not only does the book encourage children to talk about what may be happening to them it also states that it is ok to tell and that if the first person doesn't listen or believe you, to tell again and again until someone does.

Yes! Yes! Yes! I could not have said it better myself!

If you have been a reader of my blog for a while you will know I am passionate about encouraging children to speak up about abuse!

This book is based upon personal experience from the author, Naomi Hunter, and it encourages and empowers children to speak up if anyone is touching them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable.

There are multiple layers and opportunities within the story for introducing conversations about child protection. It is a great starter book for families looking to educate their children about body protection and also a great book for those children who may have been abused in any way.

The end of the story shows the child feeling happy, beautiful and free.
Her heart is changed and she knows she is not alone.

The book, a secret safe to tell, is available to purchase HERE.